Ale & Compass Restaurant Review
Ale & Compass Restaurant in Yacht Club Resort is a mid-range table service dining option at Walt Disney World. It’s decidedly unremarkable, so boring you’ll be asking “where did we eat lunch?” by dinner time. About the only thing you could say it’s the best at is being the dullest table service restaurant at Walt Disney World.
Now, you might think that’s overly harsh. After all, there are a lot of bad restaurants at Walt Disney World. From Restaurantosaurus to Planet Hollywood Observatory, there are some options that leave a lot to be desired. However, none of those are flat-out boring like Ale & Compass. Those other restaurants might try and fail, but at least they try.
By contrast, it seems that Ale & Compass just tries to be as bland and unoffensive as possible. The decor is best described as a generic modern, with aspirations of being upscale. (It’s not.) If you were to show me photos of the interior and say it’s from the lobby lounge at the Kansas City Airport Courtyard by Marriott, I wouldn’t question that. It’s actually a bit shocking that so much time was spent on the refurbishment and this is the end result.
I know part of Yacht Club’s recent refurbishment was to make it more appealing to conventioneers. What this design tells me is that Disney views conventioneers as about the most vanilla people on the face of the earth, unable to appreciate anything with any semblance of character.
I don’t know–perhaps Disney performed a deep dive into analytics and determined that people spend more expense account money on booze if the the color scheme is dull grey and deep blue.
That really gets the liquor flowing, because you need more drinks to add a sense of excitement to the dull environment? (If that’s Disney’s logic…well played.)
The one interesting-ish addition to Ale & Compass Restaurant is the counter seating that looks into the open kitchen. The problem with this, at least during our visit, was that not much was happening in this open kitchen. It’s not the entire kitchen, just where minor, late-stage prep occurs and things are fired in the hearth oven. Kudos, Ale & Compass, you’ve even managed to make an open kitchen boring.
Now, I know there will be detractors who say that they like this style or appreciate something that isn’t garish and over-the-top “Disney.” If you like the style, I can’t argue with that. I’m sure this does appeal to some people and I definitely wouldn’t mind it in a $100/night real world hotel, but not at Walt Disney World.
With regard to the latter criticism, my response would be that there is middle ground between airport hotel lounge and Chef Mickey’s. Restaurants like Artist Point and Boatwright’s Dining Hall, two of many examples, manage to do understated decor that is thematically on-point but not over-the-top.
In fact, some of Imagineering’s thematic coups are when they manage to convey a different time and place without a heavy-handed approach.
As for the food, what we tried was definitely better than the theme, but it was still a mixed bag…
We started with the Oven-roasted Oysters with spinach and creamed Kale, white cheddar, and cornbread crumbs.
Think of these as oysters for people who don’t like oysters. The other flavors really dominated the dish, to the point where only the lingering salinity at the end of each bite. The crumbing had a good flavor, but there was too much of it.
One of our friends ordered the Lobster and Corn Chowder.
I was a bit taken aback by the price here, but I tried it and this chowder was actually quite good. It wasn’t too thick and heavy, and there were generous clumps of lobster. It was an interesting twist on chowder, and something I’d consider ordering on a cold day.
Here’s the Mushroom, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyère Cheeseburger, served on a parker house bun served with fries.
This was a satisfactory burger, but does not hold a candle to the cheaper Angus Chuck Burger with Truffle Fries that used to be served at Crew’s Cup Lounge (and could be ordered here, off menu). Nevertheless, if we reviewed things relative to extinct counterparts, we’d never step foot in Epcot again. This burger was good, but I wouldn’t get it again.
Here are the Fish & Chips.
I also found these to be satisfactory but, again, not something I’d go out of my way to order again. They’re not even enough of an upgrade over Yorkshire County Fish Shop to justify leaving Epcot.
Sarah ordered the Open-faced Skirt Steak Sandwich with caramelized onions, poached egg, fennel, watercress, and tomato salad with truffle vinaigrette.
She hit the jackpot. I was apprehensive that the poached egg was here to mask subpar steak, but that was not the case at all. The meat was tender and perfectly-prepared, and the sandwich came together incredibly well with a robust mix of savory and fresh flavors. This is one of, if not the, best sandwiches I’ve tried at Walt Disney World. It was the saving grace of our whole dining experience at Ale & Compass.
We’ve heard from others who have tried items from the dinner menu and raved about their meals. Given our experience with the Skirt Steak Sandwich, I am curious about items like the Pan-seared Trout, Broccoli Rabe, Cornbread Cake and even the Fried Chicken and Waffles.
Unfortunately, to try those items, we’d have to visit Ale & Compass Restaurant again, and the insipid interior makes that unlikely. We can dine at a boring restaurant with mediocre-to-good food anywhere, at Walt Disney World, we expect more in terms of atmosphere and theme.
Want more dining recommendations? Check out our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. For info on whether the DDP is right for you, read our Ultimate Guide to the Disney Dining Plan. For comprehensive vacation advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
What do you think of Ale & Compass Restaurant? Where does it rank in terms of dining at Walt Disney World for you? Have any favorite foods here? Does the boring theme matter to you, or do you prefer an environment like this? Is there something we’re missing? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!
Birthday Dinner with six adults and 2 under 9 children, reservations for 6:30pm.
was not seated until after 7pm, placed complete order for food, drinks and appetizers all at once.
The drinks were served with the four appetizers, so far so good, then came the Hour wait for dinner. When dinner was served after 8PM, the three rare steaks were no longer rare and there was gristle in them, for over 30 dollars that was very disappointing. The burger came with a stale (rock hard from being left under the warmer lights far too long) and the size of a child’s burger. The children’s chicken was so bland they did not want it after the long wait. The seafood pot pie was dry again from being under the warming lights for an extended period of time.
The waitress promised pickles for the youngest child which never came.
Now we waited for over an hour for the food that was subpar for the price. The bill was nearly $400 and this waitress that left our food under the warmer lights far too long, still got her gratuity of $57 because it was included in the bill. All in all, a very over priced for poor quality food and experience. What a way to start a vacation!
Totally disappointed with Disney Resorts and I Love Disney and am an Annual Passholder but would NOT recommend this restaurant to anyone.
My Wife and Myself were able to get a last-minute reservation to this restaurant using the Disney Genie app, this restaurant usually has openings for dinner when using the app which, should have been the indicator that this restaurant wasn’t at all that great. Maybe it was an off night for the restaurant but for the money this is definitely not a place that I would go to ever again, The service was great and I have absolutely no complaints about the staff, the food here is not good and if you can make reservations elsewhere do so.
This is the worst restaraunt I have ever been to. I am a passholder and have been coming down here for 50 years.
I cannot answer for all the comments i read, but this place sucks.
Bottom of the barrel.
This was our favorite restaurant during our latest visit. Everything was well prepared and tasted great. My desert almost made me cry it was so good. Perhaps it is time to give Ale and Compass another shot?
For anyone staying at either the Yacht Club or Beach Club villas over the next few months, Ale & Compass will be your port in the storm. Book it, and book it often (for both breakfast and dinner) because that’s just about it on property right now for table service after you’ve had your fill of burgers and ice cream. Both Ale & Compass and Grand Floridian Cafe are MVP’s right now for their respective hotels, just as they should be.
We ate here twice on our trip last week. Agree atmosphere is not exciting, but we found the food to be consistently well done and in particular (and the reason we returned!) was the kids menu had so many more healthy options than most places! We have been to WDW 3x with our kids, and it’s so frustrating that places either offer no veggies or something really basic (corn on the cob, etc). Even the more upscale places often have the same old, basically nutritionless kids main meal options and few sides. At Ale and Compass, the kids’ menu included delicious fresh grilled fish and sides such as roasted sweet potato, quinoa and broccolini. We really appreciated this and wish more restaurants offered fish, veggies and similarly healthy menu items.
My daughter and I booked the Ale and Compass for the Candlelight Processional this past Holiday season, and found it to be excellent in comparison to most of the restaurants in the resort hotels. The service was excellent as well, just hoping they are open in late September when we are booked at the Boardwalk Villas. And I agree with Marcy, it was nice to see something other than French Fries and Broccoli for my granddaughter who is accustomed to eating healthy foods.
A group of 6 adults dined at the Ale & Compass Restaurant on 12/10/18 for the Candlelight Processional Dining Package, and we were generally disappointed. The ambience was pleasant enough to enjoy a meal, but we were seated at a round table stuck in a corner where the table servers found it impossible to serve the 3 people seated in the corner. Half of our party felt like we were the servers. Most of our meals as a whole was acceptable, and the recommended short ribs were delicious. However, the strip steak, the highest priced entrée on the menu, was way less than acceptable. I’ve had better strip steak at Texas Roadhouse for 1/3 the price. Along with the steak, the service will make all of us think hard about a return visit. Our main server made very infrequent visits to refresh our drinks, never once visited our table to check on our meal or to ask us if we needed anything. We finally had to flag him down to take our desert order because it was getting time to leave for the show. Our dining plans were for 2 hours, and it was just short of 2 hours when we ordered desert. Maybe our particular server was just having a bad night, but it would have been hard to leave an 18% tip. However, that couldn’t happen because the menu clearly states that an 18% tip will be added to the bill for all parties of 6 or more. This was the final slap on a less than enjoyable dining experience. I’d say move on because there are many other Disney restaurants with better steak and more attentive service.